SBD/November 14, 2011/Events and Attractions

Eccelestone Expresses Doubts About F1 Running '12 Grand Prix Event In Austin

Sexton said the event's funding is secured and construction is on schedule
F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone "expressed doubts on Saturday over whether the 2012 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, will go ahead as scheduled," according to Michael Casey of the AP. Asked about the prospects for the scheduled November race, Ecclestone said, "I don't know. We're trying. It's a bit of an uphill struggle there at the moment. There are two parties, one is building a track, the other has the contract and they've forgotten to talk to each other." Ecclestone added that there "were 'no problems' with the grand prix scheduled in New Jersey in 2013" (AP, 11/12). Circuit of the Americas President Steve Sexton said that it is up to Ecclestone "whether Austin's United States Grand Prix comes off as planned." Sexton: "There is no question that if he wants the USGP race to happen here in 2012, it certainly will." Sexton continued, "Our funding is secured, and construction is on schedule, so we don't understand Mr. Ecclestone's comments. He has expressed great interest in the Austin race and in expanding the F1 brand into the United States." Full Throttle Productions was "granted the right to stage the U.S. Grand Prix." But Full Throttle Managing Partner Tavo Hellmund's "visibility has diminished in recent months." He said, "It is now the responsibility of the Circuit of the Americas to make this project happen before Mr. Ecclestone's patience runs out." Hellmund in recent weeks "has dropped hints that he might be moving on" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 11/13).

APPLE OF MY EYE: Grand Prix of America Exec Chair Leo Hindery appeared on Speed’s “Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain” Sunday night to discuss staging an F1 race in the N.Y. area. Host Dave Despain said, “This idea has been around a long time. How long have you been working on making this happen?” Hindery: “This particular site is about a two-year project but … this thing is a 10-plus year endeavor. Formula One can't be just a race site. It can’t be just great racing. It has to be both a destination for the fans, a place they want to come back to year-after-year. It has to compete geographically with the capitals of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, so these endeavors to bring Formula One to the United States, the ones that failed would typically not be able to combine the three into a single project.” Despain noted no taxpayer money is being used for the race. Despain: "You're going to bring huge economic benefit to New York and New Jersey. Why shouldn't those governments help pay for the attraction that’s going to have all this benefit?” Hindery: “I don't believe municipalities or states have an obligation or even a prerogative of making us wealthy in a sport that is a business. But it's also a difficult economic time. I've never seen any of the forecasts matched with reality about what the benefits would be. The benefits would be substantial, but they're not so substantial that I'm going to bet that somebody should use taxpayer dollars to subsidize our race.” Hindery said every expense the towns should incur would be reimbursed so “that was part of why it was so hard to put together. It took us two years to find this site that would work to that effect” ("Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain," Speed, 11/13).
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